Romanians visit Tanzania – January 20, 2012

Four friends/colleagues left the blizzard and sub-zero weather conditions of Bucharest almost two weeks ago to come to Tanzania for a working vacation. They had been so cold at home that it took them a few days to warm up in our equatorial heat here. As we expected, they followed suit with our comfort level in Moshi and started to try out a few Swahili words as they quickly realized how warm and friendly the local people were.

Our Romanian visitors discovered that their unpaved roads at home weren’t so bad after all. They learned a new term, “Tanzanian massage,” as they rocked and rolled inside vehicles traversing the very bumpy and rutted roads. Besides the poor road surfaces, they also discovered that traffic often came to a halt because so many people walk everywhere and goats, cattle, chickens, and donkeys share pieces of the roads in the outer areas of Moshi.

So what did they do here? We put them to work, especially utilizing their vast knowledge and skills with wheelchair use and accessibility issues. They visited several of the children’s day centers that are part of Building a Caring Community (BCC) where they observed activities, but also provided suggestions on ramping designs and materials to use. They also helped install hardware and ramping for wheelchair access in a safari vehicle. They even brought the materials with them from Romania! The two wheelchair users instructed people how to assist when help is needed and they demonstrated their own skills in transferring in and out of vehicles when using regular car seats. Certainly not all wheelchair users have the same skills, depending on their disabilities, environment, etc. Tanzanians in Moshi are fairly used to seeing wheelchairs, but I noticed many looks of amazement when they would see their skills.

Did they have any fun? I would say “yes,” since there was a social gathering for them and they also went on a safari! It was such fun sharing this little piece of the world with our friends from Romania and watching yet another blending of cultures!

Pictures show our Romanian colleagues/friends in BCC centers and at social gathering.

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